Bryan Klein | Why Franchise? The Success of The Max Challenge

On this week’s episode of the Franchise Freedom Podcast, we chat with Bryan Klein, a visionary and entrepreneur who has dedicated his career to helping people become the best version of themselves. 

In 2011, Bryan founded The Max Challenge, a comprehensive integrated system of fitness, nutrition, motivation, and support. The Max Challenge started with a single location and a membership of 32, and has grown to include a network of over 80 operating centers in the US, with nearly 20 locations in development, and has inspired more than 100,000 transformations.

We chat further with Bryan about how he got his start as a young entrepreneur, as well as…

  • The benefits of franchising
  • His advice for those looking to transition into owning a franchise
  • The entrepreneurial mindset required to overcome roadblocks to success
  • How having a life’s mission, not just a career or a business, can completely redefine success

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Giuseppe Grammatico: Welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. I’m your host Giuseppe Grammatico, your franchise guide, and today we have a very special guest. Today we are speaking with Bryan Klein. Bryan is a serial entrepreneur, visionary and has a brilliant mind for sales and marketing. He opened the doors to his first business at the age of 18 and quickly rose to the top of his industry receiving accolades and awards for his success.

Throughout Brian’s career, one thing has remained consistent, his unrelenting desire to help people become the best version of themselves. In 2011 he founded The Max Challenge, a program designed to fill a massive void in the fitness industry. Bryan noticed that gym membership sales were up. So too were cases of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.

Even those around them who did go to the gym simply weren’t getting anywhere. The Max Challenge was designed to help people to finally achieve their health and fitness goals by way of comprehensive integrated system of fitness, nutrition and unmatched motivation and support. Bryan opened The Max Challenge’s first location in Manalapan, New Jersey with just 32 members.

Within six months, he grew his member base to 500 members and to date, The Max Challenge has inspired more than 100,000 transformations by way of a network of more than 80 operating centers throughout the US and nearly 20 locations in development. The rapid expansion of The Max Challenge is the result of Brian’s experience and his ability to motivate and inspire those around them to go big, push harder and never give up. Brian, I wanted to welcome you to the Franchise Freedom Podcast.

Bryan Klein: Thank you so much, Giuseppe, for having me. That was quite the welcome. That was awesome. I hope I live up to the incredible introduction that you gave me.

Giuseppe: Yeah, no very, very, very excited for today. You’ll actually be the first franchisor that we’ve had on this show. I know we’ve been planning on getting you on the show for a while. So very excited. I know we’ve been getting questions about how franchises run and the benefits of a franchise and we’re all gonna kind of cover today.

So this will answer a lot of the listeners’ questions. So very excited to get started. So, you know, I always like to start off every interview with, we just kind of went through your background, but if you can fill us in on anything else we had missed in the background, you know, how did you get into the business? You know, what does that look like?

Born of The Desire for Others’ Wellbeing

Bryan: So how I got into business to start with is I always had a fascination with business, I was brought up in a household of entrepreneurs. And I knew from a very early age that I wanted to do two things. One, I wanted to be in business for myself. And number two, it’s hard for a lot of people to understand this and come to terms with that, I knew in my heart, that I wanted to operate a business to help people be happier and healthier. And to me, it’s the combination of those two things. It was very clear.

And, you know, right at the age of 18 when I started my first business, I knew in my mind two things. One, I wanted to rely on nobody but myself. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. And number two, whatever I was going to do with my life, I was going to help other people be happier and healthier. And so that’s how I initially started off. I opened up one karate school at the age of 18. I’ve been in martial arts my entire life.

And again, it was, you know, with the idea of helping people to gain the self-confidence, the discipline, the physical fitness, all the incredible benefits that the martial arts program has to offer. And the funny part about this actually, Giuseppe, I don’t know if I ever shared this with you, but I actually investigated franchising. I was like, obsessed with franchising. I just loved the idea of being able to duplicate like, you see McDonald’s, etc. So I walked into a franchise attorney’s office in Red Bank, New Jersey, just a couple miles away from where I lived when I was 18 years old.

And I sat down in the chair and he gave me his presentation, and then at the end of his presentation, he told me how much it was to franchise. And I just kind of like looked at him and thought, you know, whatever he said, it may as well have been a million dollars because, yeah, I have any, I was 18 years old. And when we came up with the idea for The Max Challenge, and I immediately saw how we were helping people, you know, through fitness, nutrition, motivation, like completely change your life.

These people were becoming walking billboards. And very quickly, we began to scale from not just, we opened up with 32 members, not a lot of members. We not only scale from 32 members to 500, but then within about a two years time we scaled to six company-owned stores and I just knew that we have the formula. And the funny part about it is as walk into that same attorney’s office in Red Bank, New Jersey, seriously sat down in the same chair.

And this time, you know, I explained to him, I told him the story. He didn’t remember me because that was like one day out of his life, but I’ll never forget that I sat in his office. And, you know, that’s how we launched the franchise opportunity, which has been incredibly satisfying because not only do we get to see our members achieve the greatest levels of fitness that they’ve ever had in their lives, but now we get to enjoy the shared success of seeing franchisees live their dreams of entrepreneurship and financial satisfaction as well.

Giuseppe: That’s great. So business with purpose. That seems to be a very common theme, right? We’re not, cannot always be just about the money. The purpose, the why, why are we even doing this in the first place? And I love the story. That’s why I had you come on the show. So that is great. So if we could just talk a little bit about, a little bit more about franchising, I know you had an interest, you had met with the attorney.

The questions that I get as a franchise consultant constantly as well, why don’t I do it myself, or why franchising? What’s the benefit of franchising? If you can speak to the listeners who, a lot of listeners or corporate execs looking to get into their first business in their first franchise, you know, what are the benefits? Why did you even get into franchising versus just owning the locations outright?

More Than a Career

Bryan: The reason why I personally got into franchising and became a franchisor is because it was in perfect alignment with what I wanted out of my life. Like I truly enjoy working with people and helping other people achieve their goals and their dreams. And, you know, when you’re fueled by not just, like you said a couple minutes ago, I believe this wholeheartedly, when you’re fueled by a life’s mission and not just making $1 for the day, it’s a whole different level of achievement that you’re seeking and that you’re able to eventually achieve because it’s a sense of fulfillment from the inside.

And there’s so many people that are investigating businesses for the reason that they climb the ladder of success. They work their corporate job for X number of years. By every stretch of the imagination, they’ve achieved success. They have financial security, they got the 401K, they’ve got all the things that they thought would lead them to this place of success, except they have an emptiness in their heart.

And for me, building a business that helps people to not only, you know, continue on the path to financial success, but also to help build them up emotionally and spiritually by helping them to feel like they’re really contributing at a very high level. That is the reason why I chose franchising, and it’s been incredibly satisfying in that regard.

Giuseppe: That’s great. That’s great. For the people listening in, someone that is looking to, that maybe is, was recently laid off with everything going on or has thinking about leaving their job for a while now. Any words of wisdom, any advice you can give to someone looking to make that transition to leaving that job into owning a franchise, owning a Max Challenge? Any, you know, any bit of advice is much appreciated.

Bryan: Definitely. So, you know, what we always tell our potential franchisees is kind of like two phases of, you know, whether or not I think it’s a good idea for them to come on board with us. And I think this goes for literally any opportunity on the face of the earth. Number one is, I tell them, I explained to them that I believe that getting into business for yourself can be the absolute best thing that you do for yourself. But the other side of it is it could be the absolute worst thing that you do for yourself.

It’s true, right? You laugh. Like, you know it’s like they get into it’s the best thing, or it’s the worst thing. There’s almost actually there’s almost no like middle ground. It’s either the best or the worst. So, you know, what I do is I explained to them that our system is based on three different pillars.

And pillar number one is the financial opportunity. So if a potential franchisee, someone’s coming out of the corporate world, and they’re making x and they want to continue to make x, whatever that might be 100,000 200,000 300,000 400,000 500,000, they’ve really got to crunch the numbers and look at the opportunity being presented to them and say, Is this an opportunity that’s worth pursuing, right? Because too many people don’t do that due diligence. They don’t really investigate that financial component deep enough.

And what ends up happening is, once they realize they can’t get all of their basic needs and wants fulfilled, it becomes dissatisfying. So that’s pillar number one is this financial evaluation. Is this an opportunity worth pursuing from a financial perspective. Number two is passion, right? I truly believe that any person that truly achieves success, you can’t have one without the other. Just like I was explaining before, people climb the ladder of success just to find that they climbed the wrong ladder, right?

You rise up to the top of this corporate structure, where you’re, you know, advanced throughout the years financially, etc, just to find that it’s not exactly what you were looking for. So, you know, this passion piece is incredibly important. So as an example, in The Max Challenge, our purpose, our mission is to truly help people live happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives.

And ultimately, the ultimate success of a franchisor and the franchisee comes when both parties’ goals are aligned. First, financially, as I already spoke of, then second, are their passions and are their purposes aligned? And when they are aligned, that’s when true magic happens. So whether you’re investigating The Max Challenge or another opportunity, I would encourage you to, you know, go investigate it from the perspective of Can I really stand behind the mission of this franchisor’s company? Can I really make this more of than just a job, more than just a career, more than just a business?

You know, like they say, a business that acts too much like a business, especially in times like this, by the way, won’t be a business for too long. So the second piece is this passion piece. And then the third pillar of the, are questions that we use to evaluate is, is this person willing to strive to be the absolute best in the world? And people would look at me like, Okay, this person is insane. Like, how could he even claim that, you know, his corporate-owned store is the best in the world? Or how can he claim that, you know, like, that’s just a ridiculous thing.

But it really truly isn’t because I can tell you like in Manalapan New Jersey, Old Bridge New Jersey and Freehold and South Windsor, Connecticut, in Austin, Texas, and all these areas where we’re open, we are the best in the world. Like I don’t literally have to be the best in the world, but to the people in Manalapan New Jersey, when they think getting into, back into shape or getting, you know, into shape for the first time in their lives, which is a lot of the members that we have, they immediately think The Max Challenge because we own that place.

And how do we own that place in the consumer’s mind? We truly are the best at fitness, nutrition, motivation and results and we execute with excellence in all of the key areas of our business. So, you know, when you’re evaluating a franchise, you learn about the key systems. Learn about the strategies that the top six or seven strategies that are imperative to execute with excellence in order to be the best.

And then make sure that you’re, if it requires that you, you know, wake up early in the morning to execute those plans, that that’s something that you’re willing to do. If it requires, you know, that you make a certain number of phone calls a day, make sure it’s something that you’re willing to do. Or they interact with your staff in a certain way. Because I think that’s where people fall short. You know, they get into it, they think it’s one thing and then they’re not really striving to be the best in the world.

But I could tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that when you combine these three things, real fast it’s again the financial aspect, with passion, and then number three, the best in the world, then you find your sweet spot and literally you become unstoppable. If you have all three of these elements, I truly believe that a potential franchisee owes it to themselves to go after that opportunity because nothing will stop them from success when they have all three of those elements in play.

Giuseppe: I love that. I may steal some of those sound bites there. That’s, you know, when when I’m working with candidates, we always talk about, I get the question what’s the best franchise, what’s the hottest franchise? And I say it doesn’t work that way. You can pick up any of the magazines that come out on a monthly basis that will list them based off of rep, some are based off of revenue, some based off of number of units sold, I always say, you know, we’ll match based off the business characteristics and attributes.

But more importantly, finding a franchise is a two-way street. It’s almost as if it’s an interview both ways you’re interviewing the franchisor and the franchisor is interviewing you just to make sure everything is aligned. As a franchisee, you’re an extension of the brand. So they want to make sure that you are a good fit, you know, based off, you know, we talked about the pillars here, so, that everything is a good match. I really like the way you put it. So that’s great. Anything else that you’d want to add to that are on The Max?

Join a Group That Has High Standards

Bryan: Well, I could say that, you know, just to add to what you just said, Giuseppe, you know, The Max Challenge is one of many absolutely fantastic franchise opportunities that are available to people. And, you know, it’s just so important for people to go into the investigation process like you described, truly vetting the franchisor and then looking for franchisors that truly vet the franchisees as well because you don’t want to get into a brand that just accepts every single person, right?

Yeah, it’s so important to, you know, join a group that has high standards, knowing that you’re going to be supported not just by the franchisor, but by your fellow franchisees and the incredible system that everybody builds together. And that could only be, you can’t build something absolutely amazing if every single person gets into the system. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s not a match for everybody. So there’s a lot of fantastic opportunities. The Max Challenge happens to be one of them. But people really should do the due diligence in those three areas that I described in order to find the perfect match for themselves.

Giuseppe: That’s awesome. That’s great. One question, one kind of final question I like to ask given everything going on and, you know, we always recommend, I just did a special podcast, hopefully release next week talking about COVID-19 and what we should be doing right now. It’s, you know, obviously moving forward, but taking advantage of the time, spending time with family.

You know, we talked, as well about mindsets and just kind of taking a step back, looking at life, looking at your businesses and things like that. And that always brings me to this final question. talking just about, you know, every business person, entrepreneur runs into some type of roadblocks, you know, along their journey. You know, what thinking or mindsets you drawn, hit those roadblocks just to kind of help you keep going?

Don’t Just Survive…Thrive

Bryan: Yeah. So I mean, we all have ups and downs in life, right? And I’m not immune to it. I think any entrepreneur who says, you know, a lot of people like to paint this a, you know, it’s always, you know, roses and butterflies and it’s always great. It’s just, life never works that way. And, you know, the lesson, I think, that many of us are learning right now is we’re all in this together, right?

There’s none of us that are immune from, you know, the ups and the downs. You know, right now as a society, not even just as a country, but as an entire world, we’re all realizing we’re all in this together. I would use this time, so for me, it comes down to this, faith, right? You got to have faith. Not just faith in you know, a higher purpose and a higher power, but faith in yourself, confidence in yourself that, you know, we’re going to get through this. And, you know, along with faith comes, you know, the ability to tap into, you know, what’s most important to you in your life and really realize too will be over, right?

But time is passing, right? And as this time is passing, you mentioned spend time with your kids. You mentioned, you know, start to evaluate what your values are and what’s really most important to you in your life. I would recommend to people, look, if you did climb the ladder of success and you find you’re climbing the wrong ladder, you know, this is a perfect time to start to think about what the next chapter in your life looks like. Because I can tell you I’ve reinvented myself several times so this has become a little less scary to me than maybe it is to some, right?

But, you know, what lies on the other side of adversity is something absolutely amazing, if you just let it happen, if you just follow your heart. If you allow yourself to, even in the face of fear and uncertainty and all these things, don’t pay so much attention to the fear and the uncertainty, pay attention to the faith and the confidence that you have in yourself to not only overcome this situation, but and survive it, but to actually thrive. You know, to come out on the other side, stronger, more hopeful and in a better position than we went into this.

Giuseppe: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s all about focus, right? What we focus on is what we get. So we’re constantly in that fear of what’s, you know, what’s going to happen next, you’re almost paralyzed, You’re never going to move forward. So I like the way you put that. Bryan, I’ve, this has been great. it’s been very helpful. I hope, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for my audience asking to have a franchisor just, you know, I wanted to hear directly from a franchisor directly the benefits of franchising, that it’s not always the right fit for everyone.

Just franchising in general, right? Entrepreneurship, franchising. So, this has been very helpful. If someone wants to contact you, or I guess there’s two things here, right? If they want to look into The Max Challenge, as far as joining as a member, or if they’re looking at potentially looking at a franchise, how can they go about reaching The Max?

Bryan: They can just visit our website at and all the information, all the contact information, emails, and everything is right on the website.

Giuseppe: Easy enough. So we’re gonna put that in the show notes. We’ll put the website, we’ll have a transcription of the complete interview, Bryan. I really appreciate it. This has been a blast. I hope to have you on the show again. And thanks again. Have a great weekend.

Bryan: You too. Awesome. Thank you so much, Giuseppe.